Silent Voices

by CNE Filipino teen stabbed to death in Vancouver. Click to read the CBC article.

Deward Ponte, a 15 year old Filipino was fatally stabbed in Vancouver in the early hours of Sunday January 27, 2008. He was the victim of a fight between two groups of teenagers. An 18 year old has been charged in connection with Deward’s death. However police are still investigating and appealing to the public for more witnesses.

The CBC article indicates that Deward immigrated to Vancouver from the Philippines only 2 years ago. According to the CBC article, Deward’s mother, Daisy Ponte, said that Deward was getting poor grades in high school and wanted to return to the Philippines.

I don’t know the circumstances that led up to Deward’s death. I don’t know any of the details of Deward’s life or friends. I don’t know how hard it must have been to come to a new country with no friends. I don’t know how isolating it must have been to be thrown into a school where you’re trying to fit in. In the 90’s I grew up and went to high school in Scarborough. Back then I witnessed despair and violence. And it pains me to see that violence in high schools still prevails and seriously affects the Filipino youth community.

In 2001, there were almost 328,000 Filipinos living in Canada. That number represents 1.1% of the total Canadian population. 70% of Filipinos in Canada were born outside of Canada. About 78,000 Filipinos in Canada are under the age of 15. About 49,000 Filipinos in Canada are between the ages of 15 to 24. That’s a lot of Filipino youth! Click to view full stats.

So why don’t we hear anything from such a large youth community? Our Filipino youth are virtually invisible. We don’t know what they do, what their struggles are or what they care about. According to the media, Filipino youth die at the hands of other youth, at the hands of police. That’s it. That’s all. How dismal.

What can we do to stop the violence? The first step, I think, is to talk about it. We need our youth to talk about it. Talk is freedom. Talk is power. Our youth don’t talk. Our youth don’t have a voice. We need our youth to have a voice. KPC would like to hear your voice. If you have a comment or an answer to this call, please post a comment here.